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Mosaic World News

News/Business. English news reports from Middle Eastern broadcasters. (CC)

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Us 8, Mohammed 6, Islam 4, Israel 4, Ramadan 3, Mystical Union 2, Chris 2, America 2, Jerusalem 2, Sufism 2, Dr. Aasie 1, Turk 1, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 1, Aqsa 1, Shahada 1, One God 1, Aasi 1, Lord 1, United States 1, Dr. Aasi 1,
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  LINKTV    Mosaic World News    News/Business. English news reports  
   from Middle Eastern broadcasters. (CC)  

    October 31, 2012
    7:30 - 8:00pm PDT  

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of submission, that you are in a state of being conscious of allah and being obedient... >> i'm talking with dr. aasi at the american islamic college. dr. aasie, you're a professor here, but you also have a very strong religious role in this community, don't you? >> yeah. i basically represent different communities and conduct services at different places. but my definitely profession is as a professor of historic religion and of islamic studies. >> okay. in our study of religions, you can almost pick up any introduction to religion book and you find the five pillars of islam is usually the way it's presented. but coming from a devout muslim, could you explain the five pillars of islam to us? >> yeah. these five pillars basically are- there are two aspects of- that we just call the five articles of faith, and then the practice of that faith comprised
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into the five pillars of islam. and the first pillar of islam, it is called shahada- it means bearing witness to the truth- and it goes like that, that i be a witness there is no god but allah, and i bear witness that mohammed is his final the last messenger. now this is a kind of confession out of credal formula, in a sense that anybody who wants to be- join the community of the muslims just has to take the shahada or make- confess that in the public, he will be considered as a muslim. now how one muslim, or a person being a muslim must live as his relation to god, then these are the rest of the other four pillars which explain. and so from that, the second would be what muslims call the salaat, or the performance of the worship prayer. and this worship prayer- five
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times daily, prayers are called- now they are performed in congregation for the men to come participate in the congregation. as a necessity, wherever he is close by, but a person can perform individually these five. from the morning which is before the sunrise, the second, which comes soon after the noontime, and the third is in the afternoon, and the fourth, just after the sunset, and the fifth, anytime after the dark has totally become dark,k, and before the dawn. so these are the five worship daily prayers. the third pillar of islam is called the fasting of the month of ramadan. now this is the ninth month of the muslim calendar, and the muslim calendar, we must know, is a lunar calendar, so this month obviously rotates in different seasons. and this is the fasting throughout the whole of this month from dawn to dusk, which means from dawn time, the person must not eat- from the time of dawn, he must fast
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from eating and drinking or any kind of bread and the wrong things: back biting, telling a lie, stealing, and all those kinds of things. so this is the whole month of islam must fast. the fourth pillar is called the zakat, which means sharing one's wealth with the poor, with the needy, and this is the best kind of sharing, and it is on one's annual savings- it is not on the income, it is not a tax, rather, it is a really just obligation for sharing the wealth with those who do not have it from those who have it and who have savings. so it has a different rate according to different kinds of wealth- for example, the gold, the silver- so there are different ways upon each thing. but finally, when we put it in currency terms, it is two and a half percent on your savings in which the whole year has passed- you have to give that to the poor, to the needy, to the orphans. so all the rate categories
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really are defined, so it is not that you can spend whatever you like- now there is different categories you must have spent. and the fifth pillar is the performance of the pilgrimage- once in a lifetime, visiting, or a pilgrimage to mecca. and this is again in a prescribed month, which is the twelfth month of the muslim calendar. and there are ten days of that month one has to go and- again, this is obligatory upon those who can bear both the traveling physically as well as financially; in other words, they are not burdened upon anybody else. so if somebody is in debt, he cannot do it until he has paid all his debts. so if somebody is financially and physically capable to do this journey, he is required at least once in a lifetime. so these would be the pillars of islam. so these make the person to enter into a community and demonstrate that he believes
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in god and that he believes in the message of the qur'an and mohammed. >> well, thanks to your generosity, we were allowed to attend the i guess noon prayer service. we saw a wide variety of symbolic activity, both in terms of gestures and- particularly in terms of gestures- and from an outsider's point of view, one would say that the very heart of islam is submission to god. >> exactly. >> when we saw the service, we had the whole- and the entire group facing this wall here. could you give us some idea of the importance of this? >> yeah. this wall, basically, this is- in arabic terms, this is called the mihrab and this faces towards kaaba. so a muslim is prescribed that whenever he stands in worship to god, he must stand facing towards mecca, or kaaba, which is mecca in saudi arabia. so this is anywhere we will go, wherever the muslims will be or will be worshiping, individually or collectively, they will always face towards kaaba, which is mecca in saudi arabia.
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this is a beautiful way of always telling that this is the focal point. so muslims from all over the world, wherever they are- you know, south of mecca or north of mecca or east of mecca, west of mecca- they will always face towards mecca in their worship prayer. and this is obligatory- without this, worship prayer is not considered as worship prayer prescribed by islam. in the same way, this facing towards mecca and the gestures, as you mentioned, they are basically following the tradition as the prophet mohammed did it, and as he was taught by god. so that's why that if you ask any muslim the question that when you do worship prayer, why do you bow down and go to prostration and that, his simple answer, from the faith viewpoint, will be that, "i do it as the prophet did it, and that's what the prophet told me, that this is the proper way of worshiping god." but philosophers do definitely refer to all the mystic - where they will take different meanings. i will share them with you.
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one of the very well known philosophers and mystic and a scholar of islam, al-hazari, he beautifully explained that what is the spiritual dimensions of the worship prayer in islam, he mentioned that muslims and other human beings standing represent that all creatures would stand. and then when he bows down, he represents all those creatures which bow down or which are like animals. and then when a muslim prostrates, he represents symbolically all the creatures are worshiping as those creatures would creep on the earth. so in this way, it is a representation, from the human viewpoint, of all the creatures worshiping and submitting to god. >> let us end on a much cheerier note than the political side. you have a qur'an in arabic and i've got the qur'an with the translation in english. arabic is an absolutely beautiful language,
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and what i thought we'd do is have dr. aasi read a passage in arabic, and in my halting english, i will try and read the passage in english. >> thank you. we are going to read the first chapter of the qur'an, which is called al-fatiha- the opening- and it is also called al-hamdu- all praise to god. this is kind of- like the christian large prayer. it is exactly of that kind that in the sense that in every worship prayer, the muslims recite this chapter of the qur'an- whether they know arabic, whether they don't know arabic- every muslim almost- the child even up to the age of four and five has started memorizing this sura from the very beginning, and the sura is like that. [recites prayer with chant-like speaking]
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>> and here would be the translation in english. "in the name of god, most gracious, most merciful, praise be to god, the cherisher and sustainer of the worlds. most gracious, most merciful, master of the day of judgment. thee do we worship and thine aid we seek. show us the straight way, the way of those on whom though has bestowed by grace, those whose portion is not wrath, and who go not astray." amen. thank you very much,
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dr. aasi, for a very interesting interview. >> thank you dr. simmons. >> now we've got a sense here of islam in the united states, and as i may have mentioned, islam has taken over as the number two faith, so we're going to see more and more of islamic activity. yeah, chris? >> i just wanted to make a couple of comments. that was such a profound interview that it really brought up some points here for me is that by facing mecca, no matter where you all right e, really keeps the focus on what you're about, who you are, identity and relationship- all those questions are answered just from praying five times a day in the same direction that every other muslim in the world will. >> i felt the same way. you know, you get that sense of unity there. yeah, fire away. >> and it was neat that you had him sing, or speak in arabic his translation- well, like the same words
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that you actually said- and that reminded me a little bit of homer in the odyssey and the iliad, and how the two traditions can really collide- the sung and beautifully lyric way, and then when we actually just say it and how english is such a dry language. >> i guess it is. you know, we talked about doctrine and interpretation, and when you're using language, you're interpreting it. and there's wonderful mythic stories where great learned scholars, when they first heard the qur'an back in mohammed's time, they heard it in arabic, and it was so beautiful- you know, the recitation- it was so beautiful that they immediately- boom! - converted. that's the idea of the beauty of the language. now we've looked here at a little bit of islam in america, and so that we can get some of these remarkable roll-in footages that we had over in israel here- i want
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to bring those in- let me move first to our first roll-in and look at islam in israel. you know, you would imagine there'd be some tension there, but there's a very vital and viable community there. we had an opportunity to go to the dome of the rock, and the al- aqsa mosque, and this is just a very short piece because it took forever to try to get in there with the cameras- they were not going to let us in. and to add to the tension, as we were trying to get in through the doorway to get into the arab or the muslim area, i should say, they hauled out a young jewish fellow who had tried to pray there. i think he was praying that somehow the temple would fall and so that the jewish temple could be rebuilt. i'm not really sure, but he'd obviously been beaten, and so, you know- machine guns, the whole thing; nobody firing them, but the tension is palpable over there. nevertheless, after- thanks to our good arab guide, we were able to get in. we couldn't do any video taping
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in terms of interviews, but we were able to get just a vision of the beauty. these are like, you know, the seven wonders of the world, how beautiful these are. so let me quickly go to the roll-in at dome of the rock, and then we'll see a traditional muslim family. >> there is perhaps no better way to visualize the relationship between the mythic, ritual, and doctrinal dimensions than a visit to islam's third most holy shrine, located on the temple mount in jerusalem. according to the grand mythic saga in islam, this is the rock where mohammed, after a whirlwind night journey to jerusalem, ascended into the seventh heaven. a feature that first attracts the attention of visitors to the islamic world is the minaret- the high palace from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer five times a day. inside the mosque, the austerity and majesty of islam and its god allah are strikingly evident. unlike other faiths, the islamic tendency
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in decoration is to avoid visual representation of human and animal forms. geometric extractions are preferred as sacred art in islam. these designs express the perfection and beauty of allah as well as his transcendence of human forms. calligraphy- highlighting passages from the qur'an- grace the walls, and elaborate angrillwork speak of the beauty in life that only comes from submission to allah. allah is beautiful, the world created by him is beautiful, and the religious ritual that takes place in the mosque nurtures the believer's awareness and experience of this beauty. whether it serves as a sacred shrine for all islam or simply the local community mosque, these sacred structures are the center of the community, guiding all other aspects of islamic life. at al- aqsa, mohammed learned by divine revelation to pray five times a day, and so to this day, this central ritual activity,
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inspired by myth and guided by doctrine, defines identity and relationship in the muslim world. >> now, having seen that, hold your wonderful good questions here because i've got to get the sheik in here, the sufi sheik, and we're down to, you know, ten minutes or so. but let's go to the next roll-in. we went to a completely average- if there is such a thing- a traditional muslim family in the town of cana- that's where jesus turned the water into wine, that's where that miracle happened. well, this is a muslim family living in cana, attempting to get along with the jewish community and the christian community, and what binds them together, as you can well imagine at this point in time, is of course the five pillars of islam. so let's hear from a traditional muslim family in israel. >> that was a thing that you first want to confess,
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and to believe. >> that there is no other god, just only- >> just allah. >> - one, one god, and that mohammed is our prophet. and the second one is of our praying five times a day, and we have to pray because we don't ask to do other things, other bad things in in our life. >> so the third one is fasting in 30 days of ramadan, one month a year for us to fast 30 days. it represents many meaning for, many good meanings for why and how, and we believe
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that if we are fasting, it would be good for us- our health and healthy and our social upbringing and our economy and everything. so we fast. the fourth one is the alms, but we call it the al-zakah. it is giving from our own money to the poor people and the needy people. that's- of course they call it a solution for our situation, how to treat the poor people, and how they can live in peace together, how we can live in peace together. >> and help them also too. >> yes. not just to- so that rich man or rich family can live in a good way, but you know, that also the poor can live in a good situation, because the rich have to give two and a half percent from his own money every year, and he's not to do a favor
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for the poor family- he have to pay for them. >> as we do, as we do now, the countries force us all to pay taxes. in islam, they don't pay taxes- just the rich people pay their money. >> let me ask you, on prayer, on let's say this evening, as a family, will you pray together here? >> yes. >> oh. and just take some time- how long would it normally take to do the evening prayer, say? >> at first, we have an hour and a half where the men have to pray in the mosque, and the woman, it's better for them to pray at home. that's from our faith. >> will you get up in the morning and go to the mosque? is that near enough for you? >> yes, he has to. >> yes, we have to.
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we have to, but- >> but if he... he can't. >> he can pray in his room- >> but the praying in the mosque is one of- better for us to pray in the mosque, because it says so in the qur'an. >> so we can see here how the five pillars define the social dimension and ethical dimension for this family. something completely different, the sufi sheik- speaking of the experiential dimension, what happens if you love allah, you submit to allah so much that the theist mystical experience occurs, that you become one with allah? well, a couple of graphics to introduce this very interesting mystical path- originally offensive; you know, to say that you're one with allah, people died for that. but the love of allah took
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over certain people as the tradition developed, and we see this wonderful path of sufism, and we're going to meet a sufi sheik. from the graphics, we can see here, it's the mystical tradition in islam, from suf, which is the course wool worn by the ascetics, by the mystical people as they move through their tradition. moving on through the graphics here, if you have them, we're talking about meditation, spiritual practices, and just a love for god, a mystical union- you know, we're back to mysticism- a mystical union with god. yeah, janet? >> if we have time, i was reading this book and it has a love poem written by a woman saint. >> we have time for you! fire away. give us just love here, yes. this is a mystical love poem from- by a woman, a sufi. hit it. >> "my god and my lord, eyes are at rest, the stars are setting. hushed are the movements of birds in their nests, of monsters in the deep.
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and you are the just who knows no change, the equity that does not swerve, the everlasting that never passes away. the doors of kings are locked and guarded by their henchmen, but your door is open to those who call upon you. my lord, each lover is now alone with his beloved, and i am alone with thee." >> that kind of love- love of god- that erases the boundaries between who you are and who god is- the identity and relationship issue. that's what we're seeing here. just a couple in the tradition, a famous- al-hallaj was executed because he made the proclamation, something like, "i am the truth. i am god." he was so in love with allah that he felt that he was one. he didn't mean that he was allah, but nevertheless, he took on jesus as his kind of model for this and so they crucified him, just as jesus was crucified. and the other philosopher we have here on the graphic, al-ghazali, he provided, he took over and provided a much more
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philosophical defense of sufism. so finally, well, like the monastic path in christianity or other areas, religions have to take care of their mystics, and so what we find here is that the path is embraced and we're allowed to see it. so let me let a true sufi sheik speak just a bit about his experience. >> [translator) >> we take from jesus christ this- upon him his humility in dressing. humility in eating. i will mean the whole knowledge. nobody can become a mystic, a sufi, without having a deep knowledge.
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we love those who hate us. we bless who curse us. we do not keep hatred against anyone in the world. we're against rules. and we do not even curse those who are fermenting. we hope that god will illuminate his way to the right. >> you speak of love and humility in the sufi tradition. do you feel that then the violence that we sometimes see in the holy land is very painful, very difficult? >> [speaking in arabic] [translation] >> violence cannot emerge from people- it cannot emerge
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from people who love god, in any religion. >> or in the holy land, in arab countries, in america, and any other country in the world. >> he who uses violence means that he does not know god, because he has to think that he was created by god himself. >> see how interesting experientially a man who goes deeply- we talked about the roots, you know, the coptic bishop in egypt and other- the roots go so deep that you learn to love, and that comes out and we certainly hear this from the rare interview. yeah, jamie? >> i understand that diabetics must be fed on a regular, rigid,
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timely routine. so my question is, do you know if a diabetic muslim would still be expected to fast? >> i certainly don't. >> i do. >> oh, well, okay, virginia? >> yes. nursing mothers, babies, and sick do not have to observe ramadan. >> okay. that's part of it. sure. >> when we were first married, we lived in a flat upstairs a muslim couple, forty years ago, and it was first experience with a muslim person- he was a bosnian from yugoslavia; she was a turk- and what amazed me was their very great hospitality. "come. eat. come. stay. if you go to turkey, stay as long as you want. i'll call my mother, i'll call my aunt, i'll... stay." >> yes. the coffee. the coffee and the sweets. >> the good coffee. "eat. eat. eat again." i very rarely experienced that kind of hospitality. even if you should travel
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to their land and the people you're staying with wouldn't even know you, it's their duty to welcome the traveler, and make them comfortable. >> you're so right. we almost died of hospitality over there. we learned- you have to- do not clean your plate. once it's off the plate, more is on there. >> "eat!" >> "eat!" and that particular day when we did the sufi was a wonderful time in israel, but i think we had eight different setup and breakdowns- we were all over the place, and we'll be meeting more of those people. and that was a lot of coffee and a lot of sweets, i'll tell you- it was like zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz at the end of it. but it's that graciousness. and you know, that's one very important point, you know, as we're looking at- which we are- at islam. it's rather sad the media portrayal of this religion that at its root is love of god, that spreads love and caring amongst other people. i mean, there it is. yeah, chris? >> at your bazaar,
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you can't buy anything without sitting down and having tea. he said, "first drink tea; then we talk price." >> exactly. yeah, and you get a coke or something like that. that's right. i bought my wife a nice necklace there to get out of the doghouse- you know, too many missed gifts here. but oh, yeah, i got coke and we had to talk about it. i mean, we're talking coca- cola here, folks. i mean, you know, it was nice. chris? >> the sheik said that war cannot emerge from those who know and love god. that was a neat statement he made, and i was wondering, how do they- do they emulate jesus, or could you tell me a little more like that, because i heard him mention that? >> sure. it's a point that, you know, one of the things that i'll probably put in the study guide is some of this relationship, but it's the abrahamic tradition- abraham, moses- jesus is looked on as a great prophet; mary is worshiped. so we see a sense of embracing- you know, all this tension and negativity we get between these different faiths, well, islam sees it
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as the seal- the prophet. not to be negative, but we've run out of time- but that's the idea, it is the end. so in the next class, we'll be looking at the nation of islam.
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